Friday, September 17, 2010


“Sleep tight; don’t let the bedbugs bite!” exhorted my beloved grandfather Mac every night before I got in bed as a child.  I knew there weren’t really any bedbugs.  It was our joke.  I passed the saying along to Tara when she was little, but apparently I wasn’t as trustworthy as Mac; she didn’t take kindly to the idea of bedbugs, joke or not.  Stories about Tara and bugs, existent and non-existent, are legend, and involve baseball bats and whole rolls of toilet paper.

Bedbugs are not a joke these days.  According to all the news media, if you don’t already have them, it’s just a matter of time.  Exterminators are paying $10,000 for specially trained bedbug-locating dogs, I saw on TV.  We are barraged with warnings and what-to-do on a daily basis. 

Yesterday CNN urged against picking up any “free” furniture from curb or alley discards.  The same caveat applies to yard sales and the eponymous flea market, I assume. 

Good thing we didn’t worry about bedbugs back in the sixties.  In my graduate year of college, four of us lived in an old house near campus, which we furnished with parental discards and the perennial brick and board bookcases.   The focal point of decor in our living room was the red and white-checked front seat of an automobile.  An old automobile.   Two of us were at a flea market when we spotted the seat.  Five dollars later, the prize was ours, and it never caused us a moment of worry.  We dragged home anything that wasn’t obviously breathing, moving, or sprouting at every opportunity.

It can cost “tens of thousands” of dollars to remove bedbug infestations, trumpet the newscasters.  For  homeowners, that’s just one more grim fact to add to the endless nightmare of ownership.  Your landlord won’t let you have pets or paint the living room red?  Move.   Homeowners have to worry about thousands of dollars for  leaking roofs, dead front lawns, falling trees, worn-out heating and cooling systems, rotted beams, termites, backed up sewer lines, faulty fireplaces, squirrels in the attic, and a plethora of other potential hazards.  I gotta say, though, that a bedbug infestation might be worse.

Sleep tight.